Thursday, May 21, 2015

"the preacher didn't convince me, but Johnny Cash tried"

 This loaded "devotional" gem is tucked into  a "secular" book..
                  Sarah Vowell's journal entry for January 5 in "Radio On: A Listener's Diary"

...Yesterday, Portland made me nervous, and the radio didn't help...
I tuned in an AM sermon hosted by a singsongy preacher with an ironic bent.

"Why, if man is basically good..." he begins  the next thirty-three sentences: 
"Why, if man is basically good..."  did a man in the choir get mugged last night, did a woman he knows get raped, did thieves break in and steal a family's belongings, did he hear on the news that two teenagers killed their parents, and so on. Man is basically evil, he cries, that's why. He didn't convince me, but Johnny Cash tried.

This morning before everyone  else woke up, I went through 
my friend Chris's records and played a really rise-and-shine, high-voltage album by sunshine chanteuse Nico before I switched to the Man in Black's last effort, American Recordings.  A dreary little ballad, by Mr. Pure Pop for Now People, Nick Lowe,
 called “The Beast in Me” stopped me cold.

Its slow; though it's not the tempo but rather Cash's bleak and painful voice that forced me to face my own ugliness.  "God help the beast in me,"  he moans.

That Portland preacher bought a ticket on the wrong guilt trip, relying on examples of commandments broken, of killing and headline crime. By drilling his congregation with dramatic case histories, he neglects the smaller, infinitely more suitable acts against goodness and decency. Most likely, his average listener had never mugged another pedestrian, shot her husband, or robbed from the poor, but what if, like the beast in me, she had just abandoned her best friend in a time of crisis to ward off her own paranoia by getting drunk alone?  -link, p. 11-12

Related Johnny Cash posts:

  • holy heteroclite:: Johnny Cash officiating communion for ...
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    May 30, 2013 - holy heteroclite: Welcome! ..... Johnny Cash on "Amazing Grace" and the prison crow... vs "Man, we sure demolished that pagan atheist's a.
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  • holy heteroclite:: "He preaches WITH, not TO the damned ...
    Nov 8, 2006 - Those three terms, then (uncalculated, uncredentialed, and prophetic) fit U2 and Johnny Cash well. Unlike many Christians...let alone pastors.
  • holy heteroclite:: COFFEE, NOT JESUS
    Jul 24, 2007 - Here is the easiest way to explain the genius of Johnny Cash: Singing from the perspective of a convicted murderer in the song 'Folsom Prison ...
  • holy heteroclite:: psalms with street cred and drums that ...
    Oct 6, 2013 - (see U2 devotional #7b:"like a preacher needs pain") Great testimony in Christianity Today.includes some great U2 (and Johnny Cash) nods): ...
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